San Francisco 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin (59) speaks at a press conference at the New Orleans Marriott on Canal Street in New Orleans, La., on Sunday,
San Francisco 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin (59) speaks at a press conference at the New Orleans Marriott on Canal Street in New Orleans, La., on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2012. The 49ers will play the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3. (Jane Tyska/Staff)

SANTA CLARA -- Center Jonathan Goodwin has thought about retiring from the 49ers at season's end, and although he hasn't made a definitive stance, he knows the best exit strategy.

Last season, Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk retired after winning the Super Bowl against Goodwin's 49ers.

"It would be nice to go out his way. He won the Super Bowl after chasing it for so long," Goodwin said Friday.

Goodwin's already has won something in his 12th NFL season: the 49ers' Ed Block Courage Award, given annually to a player for exemplifying sportsmanship and courage.

"Jonathan's had a long and successful career. He wanted to come back this year and take another run at it," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "Day in and day out, he's the cement in the offensive line that we all count on, not only during the game and practice, but in meetings as well."

Goodwin's 84 consecutive starts rank third-most among active centers. He's in the final season of a three-year, $10.9 million contract he signed in 2011 after leaving the New Orleans Saints.

"There have been (retirement) thoughts here and there, but I definitely haven't made that decision," Goodwin said. "I feel I'm still playing at a pretty high level. These guys around me bring up the best in me.


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"I feel like my play hasn't fallen off but, being that I will be a free agent, I still need a contract to be able to still play. We'll see what happens in the offseason."

Factoring into Goodwin's decision isn't just whether he gets another contract, but whether he wants to continue splitting his family's time between the Bay Area and their offseason home in South Carolina. He and his wife have three sons (ages 8, 5 and 11 months) who are home-schooled during the season.

Goodwin spent most of last offseason in South Carolina rather than attend the 49ers' voluntary workouts, and he eventually took a pay cut from $3.7 million to $2.5 million for this season.

Influencing his decision to return was the 49ers' Super Bowl potential, which remains strong as they take a 10-4 record into Monday night's game against the Falcons.

"You definitely get the taste of getting there again and this team is capable of doing it," Goodwin said. "I'd never want to be the guy to hang on for the wrong reasons."

Having grown up a 49ers fan, Goodwin also doesn't want to give Candlestick Park the wrong sendoff, stating: "It's going to be pretty electric, hopefully like a playoff game. I told the guys earlier it's a stadium that's pretty legendary and we want to do everything we can to send it out the right way."

Goodwin was given a veteran's day off to rest Thursday. The 49ers have the fifth-ranked rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 137.1 yards per game.

"He's a good dude," running back Frank Gore said. "He's a great guy in the locker room, a great player, he's smart and I'm happy I got a chance to play with him."

For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.